(Nati Harnik/AP)
Flags fly over ConAgra Foods world headquarters in Omaha, Neb. ConAgra Foods Inc., said Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015, it is getting rid of about 1,500 jobs, or approximately 30 percent of its global workforce, as part of a restructuring plan aimed at lowering costs and improving its performance. The packaged foods maker is also moving its headquarters from Omaha, Neb., to Chicago.

ConAgra cuts jobs and moves to the Windy City

ConAgra, the parent company for many household names, is cutting jobs and moving its headquarters out of Nebraska in effort to improve sales. 

ConAgra, whose products include Slim Jim, Chef Boyardee, and Orville Redenbacher, announced a major company restructuring Thursday that will include a move to Chicago and 1,500 job cuts. 

The company, which has 32,900 employees, confirmed that the job cuts are planned for their corporate offices and not the production plants. The 1,500 layoffs represent about 33% of the company's office-based personnel.

And why Chicago?

Moving its headquarters to the Windy City will bring the company “to the heart of one of the world’s business capitals and consumer packaged goods centers,” ConAgra said in a statement. The company also hopes the move will attract top talent in the consumer food business.

When about 700 ConAgra employees move to Chicago’s Merchandise Mall next year, they will join other food companies such as Tootsie Roll Industries Inc and Quaker Oats Co. Kraft Heinz is also planning an upcoming move to Chicago. 

With these changes, ConAgra expects to save $300 million within the next three years, a significant figure for the company since it has only reported an increase in net sales twice in the last six quarters. Last month, ConAgra reported a first-quarter loss of $1.2 billion.

ConAgra announced in June that it will sell Ralcorp, after buying the company two years ago for $5 billion. Jana Partners, a major stockholder in ConAgra, pressured the company to sell Ralcorp, citing the acquisition for the poor results.

ConAgra’s rivals, such as Campbell Soup Co, General Mills, and Kraft Heinz Co, have recently made similar cuts as consumers shift away from processed foods.

Omaha leaders are worried about the move’s economic impact on their city. After Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert met with ConAgra executives and offered them incentive packages to stay, she told the Omaha World-Herald, “I didn’t hear what I wanted to hear.” 

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement that “this decision by ConAgra Foods further solidifies Chicago’s role as one of the world’s leading destinations for food processing companies.” 

ConAgra CEO Sean Connolly said the company will “retain a major presence in Omaha, where we have deep roots,” with a base of 1,200 employees. Originally known as Nebraska Consolidated Mills headquartered in Grand Island, Neb., the company changed its name to ConAgra in 1971 and then moved to Omaha in 1988.

Omaha is also home to other major companies in different industries, such as Mutual of Omaha, Union Pacific, and Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway. 

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to ConAgra cuts jobs and moves to the Windy City
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today